Lincoln Younes (centre) in ‘Grand Hotel.’
Lincoln Younes auditioned for multiple US roles during six pilot seasons without success – but his persistence paid off when he was invited to join the ensemble cast of Grand Hotel.
Younes plays enigmatic hotel waiter Danny Garibaldi in the US ABC network series set in Miami, which follows an Hispanic family as they pursue the American dream.
Inspired by a Spanish series and executive produced by Eva Longoria, the show premieres on the Nine Network at 8.40 pm this Wednesday, following The Block.
Ironically the actor, now 27, nearly pulled out of the audition in Sydney. In the space of three days during pilot season he did 12 self-tapes with the Australian casting directors and had so little time to prepare that he nearly cancelled the Grand Hotel audition, but he decided to give it a shot.
He did a 12-page scene from the pilot script. Two days later he got a call asking him to fly to Miami. At that stage he did not have a US rep (he is now managed by Megan Silverman, a former WME partner and agent) so his Australian agent United Management negotiated his deal.
The show’s Australian casting director Kirsty McGregor championed his cause, as she has done throughout his career. “I’ve been an admirer of Lincoln’s since he brilliantly played Ben Mendelsohn’s son in Tangle,” Kirsty tells IF.
“We have cast him in various films and I am always so impressed not just by his work ethic but by how genuinely lovely and kind he is. I’m wishing him all the greatest for his career but I’ve made him promise to continue working on Australian projects.”
Set at the last family-owned hotel in multicultural Miami Beach, the drama follows the hotel owner Santiago Mendoza (Demián Bichir), his glamorous second wife Gigi (Roselyn Sanchez) and their adult children who enjoy the spoils of success. But scandals, escalating debt and explosive secrets lurk beneath the surface.
Danny gets a job as a waiter in his quest to find out what happened to his missing sister who worked at the hotel. He embarks on a forbidden romance with the Mendoza’s daughter Alicia (Denyse Tontz).
“What drew me to the show is the duality of Danny: There is a cat-and-mouse game between him and the other characters and between him and the audience, who don’t know if he is being sincere or playing everyone to his advantage,” he tells IF on the line from Miami.
“There is an undeniable chemistry between Danny and Alicia but there are lot of actions on Danny’s side which makes the relationship questionable.”
While the production obviously has a much bigger budget than Younes is accustomed to in Australia, that does not mean there is any more time for rehearsals.
So he found that working in shows such as Love Child, Hiding, Home and Away and Tangle made him well prepared for the rigours of the US shoot.
Longoria, who bought the remake rights to the original series and plays Beatriz, the hotel’s former owner and Santiago’s first wife, has been a mentor to the Aussie.
Thanks to her commitment to diversity, nine of the 11 ensemble are people of colour and half of the writing staff and seven out of 12 directors are women.
US networks typically oblige key cast in new series to sign multiple-year options. ABC will decide on a renewal after the last episode has gone to air.
“I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity over here. The whole creative team have become like a family so I would be very happy to continue,” he says.
Now filming episode 11 (there are 13), he is throwing his hat in the ring for several gigs in the US and Australia. In a perfect world, like many of his peers he would shuttle back and forth.
Reflecting on this stage of his career, he says: “LA is a tough town and there are always ups-and-downs. There is a lot of noise so finding the silence and the quiet can be difficult, but I think that’s the key to longevity over here.”